Congress should fulfill its constitutional duty to police executive-branch lawlessness. Don’t hold your breath.
“Congress has become a paper tiger within our tripartite system.”
These Republican leaders’ reasons are cumulatively unpersuasive. Resuscitating the impeachment power would contribute to revitalizing Congress’s Article I powers. Impeachments are rare — no appointed official of the executive branch has been
impeached in 140 years. But what James Madison called the “indispensable” power to impeach should not be allowed to atrophy, as has Congress’s power to declare war.
Here are a few pertinent facts. At the IRS, Exempt Organizations director Lois Lerner participated in delaying for up to five years — effectively denying — tax-exempt status for, and hence suppressing political advocacy by, conservative groups. She retired after refusing to testify to congressional committees, invoking the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination.
Koskinen, who became commissioner after Lerner left, failed to disclose the disappearance of e-mails germane to a congressional investigation of IRS misbehavior.
Under his leadership, the IRS failed to comply with a preservation order pertaining to an investigation. He did not testify accurately or keep promises made to Congress. Read the rest of this entry »
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court also demanded Clinton, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin provide assurances by Wednesday that they would not delete any federal records in their possession.
Sarah Westwood reports: A federal judge ordered Hillary Clinton and two of her top aides not to delete any potentially work-related emails after Clinton’s former chief of staff vowed to discard all electronic copies of her records by Monday.
“The destruction of federal documents in the face of a court order is par for the course for a Clinton-related scandal….If not for the swift action of Judicial Watch’s legal team and an alert federal judge, there is no telling what important public information would have been lost forever.”
— Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch
The order came Friday evening in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch seeking documentation of a controversial employment status bestowed on Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, that allowed her to work simultaneously for the State Department, the Clinton Foundation and a consulting firm called Teneo Strategies.
After Sullivan asked Clinton, Mills and Abedin to certify under penalty of perjury that they had each submitted all work-related emails, only Clinton reportedly responded.
Mills and Abedin seemingly ignored requests that they had handed over all their emails as each continued to prepare emails for the State Department. Read the rest of this entry »
When it was revealed in 2013 that the IRS had targeted conservative groups for exercising their First Amendment rights, President Obama correctly called the policy “inexcusable” and pledged accountability. He even fired the then-acting IRS commissioner because he said it was necessary to have “new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.”
“A taxpayer would never get away with treating an IRS audit the way that IRS officials have treated the congressional investigation.”
Unfortunately, Commissioner Koskinen, who took over in the wake of the IRS targeting scandal, has failed the American people by frustrating Congress’s attempts to ascertain the truth. A taxpayer would never get away with treating an IRS audit the way that IRS officials have treated the congressional investigation. Civil officers like Mr. Koskinen have historically been held to a higher standard than private citizens because they have fiduciary obligations to the public. The IRS and Mr. Koskinen have breached these basic fiduciary duties:
• Destruction of evidence. Lois Lerner, at the time the director of the IRS’s exempt-organizations unit, invoked the Fifth Amendment on May 22, 2013, when appearing before Congress; her refusal to testify put a premium on obtaining and reviewing her email communications. On the same day the IRS’s chief technology officer issued a preservation order that instructed IRS employees “not to destroy/wipe/reuse any of the existing backup tapes for email, or archiving of other information from IRS personal computers.”
“John Koskinen has violated the public trust, breached his fiduciary obligations and demonstrated his unfitness to serve. Mr. President, it’s time for Commissioner Koskinen to go. If you don’t act, we will.”
Several weeks later, on Aug. 2, the House Oversight Committee issued its first subpoena for IRS documents, including all of Ms. Lerner’s emails. On Feb. 2, 2014, Kate Duval, the IRS commissioner’s counsel, identified a gap in the Lerner emails that were being collected. Days later, Ms. Duval learned that the gap had been caused in 2011 when the hard drive of Ms. Lerner’s computer crashed.
Despite all this—an internal IRS preservation order, a congressional subpoena, and knowledge about Ms. Lerner’s hard-drive and email problems—the Treasury inspector general for tax administration discovered that the agency on March 4, 2014, erased 422 backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 emails. (Congress learned of the discovery only last month.)
Ms. Duval has since left the IRS and now works at the State Department, where she is responsible for vetting Hillary Clinton’s emails sought by congressional investigations of the Benghazi attacks.
• Failure to inform Congress. Mr. Koskinen was made aware of the problems associated with Ms. Lerner’s emails the same month Ms. Duval discovered the gap. Yet the IRS withheld the information from Congress for four months, until June 13, 2014, when the agency used a Friday news dump to admit—on page seven of the third attachment to a letter sent to the Senate Finance Committee—that it had lost many of Ms. Lerner’s emails. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Weekly Standard, Daniel Halper reports: The IRS comissioner insists his agency did not break the law or relevant statutes. But under questioning by Rep. Trey Gowdy, the IRS commissioner also admitted that he doesn’t know the law or the relevant statutes:
“You have already said, multiple times today, that there was no evidence that you found of any criminal wrongdoing,” Gowdy said. “I want you to tell me: What criminal statutes you have evaluated?”
“Common sense? Instead of the criminal code, you want to rely on common sense?”
“I have not looked at any,” the IRS commissioner admitted.
“Well then how can you possibly tell our fellow citizens that there is no criminal wrongdoing if you don’t even know what statutes to look at?” Gowdy followed-up. Read the rest of this entry »